Scaring Our Children To Antinatalism
From images of the bloody conflict in Ukraine to headlines claiming the end is near from climate change, our children are struggling with the morality of having children.
(image- The remnants of a Ukrainian hospital in the radioactive zone of the Chernobyl Nuclear facility)
Nothing new here but the pandemic has proved once again the power of fear. If confidence in the future and hope for a better tomorrow appear illusory, fear creeps in to fill the void.
Political historians tell story upon story of how fear was used for political purposes throughout all of time. Politicians keep or gain power by convincing us that we must fear their opponents or other threats. Political parties work overtime to suggest their ideological enemies will destroy life as we know it. If not life itself, then democracy for certain! Hyperbole for sure, but you get the sense that some people actually come to believe that.
The young don’t always know what is hyperbole and what is truly something to be feared. A benefit of age is the experience we have with those who attempt fear to manipulate. But that is a generalism with many examples of the wrinkled too, finding much of life to fear.
Popular novelist, Jane Austen, held those who attempt to use fear to intimidate in low regard. In her book Pride and Prejudice, she wrote “There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
For a growing number of young women, the notion of bringing a child into a world so full of chaos, pain, and despair has become a moral dilemma. With a personal worldview that is bleak and with life ultimately leading to physical and emotional suffering and decay, why bring a new life into this dystopian reality. So an alarming number of young are vowing never to have children.
Today, there are more women who reach the age of 30 not having a child than have. That is historical. There are a number of demographic reasons for this- many choose to marry later to have meaningful careers and so on. Some honestly will tell of not wanting to be burdened with having children. But researchers who study these things point to another reason often stated by those who wish to remain childless- climate change. The fear of the world ending due to man-caused climate change is a world they wish no child enter.
For them, they have entered into the world of antinatalism, the belief that it is morally wrong or unjustifiable for people to have children.
Antinatalism is a fast-growing movement as evidenced by the growing group presence on social media platforms. From Reddit to Facebook to TikTok, the young are sharing experiences and reasons for their rationale. They reinforce each other with often bitter and angry posts. The future and human’s contribution to our despotism has them suggesting that everyone not have children. It would be morally wrong to bring a child into such a bleak future. In a twisted sense of justice, the result of humans disappearing from this earth would be completely acceptable- a moral imperative even.
Naturally, many blame religion and white patriarchy for creating a false premise that reproduction is a blessing or even a duty. It’s a curse so they eschew the Biblical teaching of ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ It is immoral, they smugly assert, as the earth has become polluted, overpopulated, diseased, and will soon be unbearable due to earth getting too cold or too hot- which conveniently accounts for all eventualities.
The poster child for angry young people is Greta Thunberg from Sweden. So bleak is the future for this young lady that she has suspended her schooling for full-time work as a doom and gloom climate evangelist. Why continue with education if the future is doomed? Propped up and pushed by far-left adults with no real solution to scraping CO2 from the atmosphere, most of which is naturally occurring, she and her handlers advocate for the dismantling of much of western economic progress and political structures. “How dare you!” she admonishes the world.
Current events once again have us pondering the horror of war. Digital technology allows us to watch people bleed red blood and suffer in real-time. History tells us how small border disputes can erupt into full-out world wars with millions of casualties. The law of unintended consequences can quickly take something minor and then morph into something major. Understandably, we feel pangs of fear.
With little interest in history and a rapidly declining interest in reading among all generations, we are becoming a people made afraid by headlines and what is allowed on social media platforms. It assures clicks and eyeballs.
For many of our young, the Ukrainian/Russo war is their first exposure to the depravity of war-making. For them, the thousands of conflicts that came before are faint and not particularly relevant. And if the UN issues an authoritative-sounding IPCC Report and says the world is doomed due to climate change, then it must be true and ominous. But before concluding the UN is a source of truth and goodness, consider which country heads the ‘Security Council’- Russia.
Headline after headline tells of acidic oceans, heat blobs, and receding ice extents. So clever are the click baiters that every storm, large or small, is given a name as if something nasty was just born so we can label the victims. Images are enhanced, enlarged, and manipulated to misrepresent the size and danger of nearly everything.
Obviously, the consequence of antinatalism is the eventual extinction of the human race. If the fearful, the neurotic amoung us, those that have bleakly concluded that no child should enter this god-forsaken hellhole called life on earth, then indeed, nihilism is not far behind.
As a small child, most of life is about discovery. At the shore, we turn over rocks looking for the life hidden beneath. Then we learn to read and our world broadens. We read books like Pride and Prejudice and gain insight into the subtleties of relationships and the consequence of pride. We read of great adventurers and learn of the great hardships found in the unknown. We read books of war and ponder the capacity of hatred that leads to atrocities. I remember well my first reading of the book of Job in the Old Testament.
Job, writhing in pain from a fall of God’s design, came to lament his own birth. Such was the depth of his suffering. Job curses his own existence. But through deep soul searching and talking with God and others, Job came to understand the purpose of his suffering. He came to praise God from the dust of his poverty and the pain from his boils. Job would go on to live to see four of his generations come to being.
Is our pain, suffering, and decay the ultimate injustice? For many, especially the young, it appears so. They have been made deeply unhappy and distrustful of the future by those who ply the depths of fear. Is there an antidote?
Perhaps if we were to read more and click less, we might overcome those who wish to keep us in a state of fear. We’d learn from reading that all of history has experienced upheaval and uncertainty. That fields of yellow cups are a delight to run through. That love and passion create moments that leave great memories. That reading of the complexity of five young women finding mates can become a wonderful escape. If still uncertain, let me show you my pictures of my children growing up.
And if still curious, dare enter a place of worship this Sunday. In spite of human failings, it still offers the story of our greatest hope for tomorrow.